The story is, unfortunately, unremarkable: a girl with a disease that put her mental age at around 8 was mercilessly teased by bullies roaming the halls of her high school. But thanks to some football players from Queen Creek High School in Arizona, the story’s ending was unique.
Chy Johnson, a sophomore at Queen Creek, suffers from a congenital birth defect – microcephaly – which means that she is severely developmentally delayed. Not so delayed, however, as to not be hurt by the constant teasing and beatings that she was subjected to within Queen Creek’s walls. Her mother, Liz, was frantic. Chy was coming home every day upset and crying.
Attempting to get teachers and administrators to intervene on Chy’s behalf went nowhere. Running out of options, Liz turned to an unlikely ally – the quarterback of Queen Creek’s undefeated football team, Carson Jones. Liz hoped that Jones, who accompanied Chy to the Special Olympics one year, could act as her advocate once again.
On his Facebook page, Liz asked him to look out for Chy and maybe give her some names of the kids doing the most damage so she could have something concrete to take to the school administrators.
But Carson Jones did something better than that. Instead of ratting other kids out, he decided to take one in — Chy.
He started asking her to eat at the cool kids’ lunch table with him and his teammates. “I just thought that if they saw her with us every day, maybe they’d start treating her better,” Carson says. “Telling on kids would’ve just caused more problems.”
Jones got other seniors on the team involved as well. Tucker Workman, the team’s starting running back, organized his teammates to walk with Chy from class to class. In the classes they all shared, there was always a place for Chy to seat, right next to the players. Having the protection of the school’s athletes also allowed Chy to eat lunch in the main school cafeteria, at the popular kids’ table, no less, instead of the stuffy and dark special-education lunchroom.
And the best thing is? The football players didn’t tell anybody.
“I didn’t know about any of this until three weeks ago,” says Carson’s mom, Rondalee, who’s raising four boys and a daughter by herself. “He finally showed me an article they wrote here locally. I said, ‘Are you kidding me? Why didn’t you tell me this?'”
All of a sudden, Chy started coming home as her bubbly self again. When her mom asked why she was so happy, she said, “I’m eating lunch with my boys!”
The boys take care of Chy, and she takes care of the boys. Carson, carrying a GPA of 4.4, got in a car accident last week; since then, Chy is always trying to carry his backpack. “I know his neck hurts,” she says.
Best of all, the plan is in place for next year when Jones, along with many of the other players looking after Chy, graduates Queen Creek. Jones’ younger brother Curtis, who is a sophomore like Chy, and a football player like Carson, has already volunteered to take over starting next fall.